An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 3, the History of the City and County of Norwich, Part I. Originally published by W Miller, London, 1806.
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Richard the Second, son to Edward the Black Prince, and grandson to Edward III. began his reign June 22d, 1377, being then 11 years old; he was commonly called Richard of Burdeaux, because he was born in a town of that name in Gascoign. This King in the first year of his reign, granted a Charter to the city, (fn. 1) which is dated at Westminster, Feb. 26, to which the following great men were witnesses, viz. Simon (Sudbury) Archbishop of Canterbury, William (Courtney) Bishop of London, Adam (de Houghton) Bishop of St. David's and Chancellor, Thomas (de Bretingham) Bishop of Exeter, Treasurer, Tho. (de Appleby) Bishop of Carlisle, Ralf (Erghun or Ergum) Bishop of Salisbury, John King of Castile and Leon, and Duke of Lancaster, the King's uncle, Ric. Arondell, Hugh Stafford, William de Montacute Earl of Salisbury, Guy de Brien Chamberlain, Ric. le Scrop Steward of the Household, Ric. de Stafford, and Henry le Scrop, by which all the former charters are confirmed, and also, "that if there are any customs contained therein, which they have not used, yet for the future on any occasion they might use them, without having a non-user or a dis-user pleaded against them;" and further, there is a clause added, by which it was granted the city, that no privileged persons, or persons having the King's protections, should by virtue thereof enter the city, and purvey (fn. 2) or bargain for any victuals before-hand, whether it be for the King's own service, or for any voyage to be made for the King's use, and that all such forehand bargains shall be void, and such protections should not be pleaded in the city; by which it appears that the purveyors and persons protected by the King, came hither, as well as to other parts of the realm, and bought up so much provision (for the King's use as they pretended) as made things very dear, against which mischief they provided by this charter; so that now these forestallers (for such they were in fact) were excluded the city, to the great satisfaction of all the citizens, who had suffered much by them: for oftentimes, though they bought things up on such pretence, yet if they could get extravagant prices, they sold them again, which was the occasion of so much complaint; and whereas the ancient charters of Norwich were granted to be as ample as the liberties of the city of London, the citizens, on their petition, had an exemplification under the broad seal of green wax, now hanging thereto, of the last charter made to the city of London, which is also dated this year, in which all the prior charters of that city are recited by way of inspeximus.
In 1378, the citizens of Norwich petitioned the parliament, requiring that no stranger within their liberty may there sell or buy any merchandise by retail, on pain of forfeiture: (fn. 3) to which it was answered, that "There is a statute (fn. 4) hereafter made which shall be kept." And it was then enacted for the citizens of Norwich, "that if their customs and usages heretofore used or hereafter to be used, be difficult or defective, in part or in all, or that the same need any due amendment, for any new matter arising, whereof remedy was not before that time had, that then, the bailiffs and twenty-four citizens of the same city, (fn. 5) so therefore yearly to be chosen, or the greater part of them, shall from henceforth have power to ordain and provide from time to time, such remedies which are most agreeable to faith and reason, and for the most profit of the good and peaceable government of the town, and of strangers thereto repairing, as to them shall seem best, so as such ordinances be profitable for the King and his people." Upon which, there was a tax immediately laid, and two citizens appointed to collect it, and ordinances made for all goods to be landed at the publick city stath, and for all foreigners to pay the same as citizens; and then was fixed the tolls and customs for all things whatever coining to, or going from, the city by land or water, as appears at large in the city evidences: and in the treasurer's accounts of this year, I find 15 of the towers in the walls were let out by the city, some to Tho. de Worthsted, keeper of the city ditches, who had a salary of 13s. 4d. for that office, and some to others: and this year the tax raised by the city on the citizens came to 128l. 4s. 8d. and the whole income of the city to 374l. 17s. 4d. ob. out of which they lent the King 191l. and paid to Edm. de Clippesby, the city counsellor, for his yearly salary, 20s.; to Edm. Gournay, the other city counsellor, for his yearly salary 20s.; to the treasurers their fee of 20s. each, and to the town-clerk his salary of 40s.; and to two esquires, the King's messengers, who came to borrow 400 marks of the city for the King, 10 marks; to the Duke of Lancaster (who I suppose had been serviceable in procuring the charters and act) 10l. and to the waits, when the said Duke visited the city, 20s.; to the admiral of the city, for cleaning and adorning his barge, 5 marks; and to John Staple for (keeping) the same, 40s.; and to John Haukere, for the same, 13s. 4d. and to Bartholomew de Appilyerd for the commission to him directed for the admiralty 10s. And by the same account it appears, they were at great expenses in fitting out their barge for the admiral: this jurisdiction, as I am apt to think, belonged to the city ever since it was a sea-port, and continues to this day, for I have seen very late commissions for the admiralty jurisdiction of this city.
In 1379, the citizens leased St. Stephen's-gates, and all the houses and conveniences thereto belonging, to John de Taseburgh for life, (fn. 6) paying to the bailiffs and commonalty one launce and target handsomely adorned, yearly, in the same manner as John de Welford held it by grant passed 50th Edward III. and this year Sir John Dovedale, Knt. sued Agnes de Gnateshalle for 20d. rent, issuing from a house in Norwich, of which Sir Tho. de Dovedale, his father, was seized, and brought the action to be tried before the King's justices at Thetford, at which place the city claimed their privileges, produced their charters, and the knight was commanded to try it before the bailiffs of Norwich, according to their liberties; and in the Plea Book belonging to this city, there are a great number of instances of causes arising in the city, brought back from the hearing of the King's justices, at Westminster, Thetford, and elsewhere, to be determined in the court of the bailiffs of Norwich; and afterwards in the time of mayors and sheriffs, to be tried before them. And this year they obtained another Charter, (fn. 7) which is beautifully adorned with gold and various colours, it is dated at Westminster, Feb. 15th, and is witnessed by Simon Archbishop of Canterbury, Chancellor, and Thomas Bishop of Exeter, both Treasurers, John King of Castile and Leon, Edmund Earl of Cambridge, Thomas Earl of Bukingham, Constable of England, the King's uncles, William de Latimer, Will.de Beauchamp, Chamberlain, and Hugh de Seagrave, Steward of the household. In it all the former Charters are confirmed and recited at large, and the following is added to them: by which the citizens had the same confirmed to them by Charter, as they had before obtained in parliament, viz.
Quod nullus alius extraneus a libertate sua Norwici, emat, vel vendat victualia, seu mercandisas aliquas, ad retalliam, vel per parcellas, infra libertates civitatis predicte, nisi secundum formam et tenorem slatuti nostri, in parliamento nostra apud Gloucestriam, die Mercurij prox. post Festum Sancti Luce, anno regni nostri secundo, tento editi, plenius expressat: et content; sub pena forisfacture, in eodem statu to contenta.
Preterea, Concessimus, &c. quod si fortassis alique consuetudines in dicta civitate bactenus optente, et usitate, in aliqua sint parte difficiles, sive defective fuerint, sic quod propter aliqua in eadem civitate de novo emergencia, ubi remedium prius clare non extitit ordinatum, emendatione indigeant, ballivi dicte civitatis pro tempore existentes, de assensu viginti et quatuor concivium suoruru, pro communitate dicte civitatis singulis annis eligendoruro, vel majoris partis eorum viginti et quatuor sic eligendorum, potestatem habeant et auctoritatem, remedium congrnum bone fidei, et consonum rationi, pro communi ntilitate civium dicte civitatis, et aliorum fidelium nostrorom, ad eandem confluencium apponend: et eciam ordinand: ac ordinationes suas hujusmodi executioni debite demandand: quocienset quando opus fuerit, et eis videbitur expedire, dum tamen ordinationes ille, nobis et populo nostra, utiles, ac bone fidei et cousone fuerint rationi, sicut predictum est.
In 1379, there was an act made, that if any alnager seals faulty clothes, the cloth should be forfeited to the King, and he should lose his office; (fn. 8) which was confirmed in 1383; and in 1393, it was enacted that no alnager should have any sure or certain estate in his office; and this year, in order to protect the trade of this city and county, it was enacted, that single worsteds might be carried abroad where the makers pleased.
In 1382, the parliament granted the King a new (and at that time strange) subsidy, towards the charges of the army that went over into France, namely, of every secular or regular priest 6s. 8d. and as much of every nun, and of every man and woman married or unmarried, being above 16 years of age, (common beggars only excepted,) fourpence a piece, which raised such a grudge and bitter cursing among the people, that the year following, they broke out into an open rebellion, (fn. 9) for
In 1381, the commons sorely repining, not only for the poll groats that were demanded of them, but also thinking themselves sore oppressed by their lords, that demanded of them their ancient customs and services, as men not content with the state whereunto they were called, they rose in divers parts of the realm, purposing to force the King to make them all free, and release them from all servitude, whereby they stood as bondmen to their lords and superious: (fn. 10) where this first began we have different accounts, some say in Essex, others, at Dartford in Kent, where one of the officers demanding the poll groat for a daughter of one John Tiler, who was not 16 years of age, and being refused it, rudely offered some indecencies to her, upon which her mother raised the neighbourhood, and her father, who was at work in the town, hearing the uproar, came home with his lathing staff in his hand, and demanding of the officer how he dare be so rude to his daughter? he immediately flew at him, which Tiler perceiving, beat out his brains with the lathing staff, upon which the poor folks immediately joined Tiler to support him; and the commons drew together, and went to Maidstone, and thence to Blackheath, where they were soon 100,000 strong, and there John Tiler, who named himself Jack Straw, took upon him to be their chief captain, one "John Ball, an excommunicated priest, taking occasion hereat to rip up the ground of this misgovernment, telling the people that this difference of men's estates, where some are potentates and some are bondmen, was against Christian liberty, taking for his theme,
"When Adam delv'd, and Eve span, Who was then a gentleman?" (fn. 11)
By which he so incensed them, that the commons in divers parts drew together, and at last brought into their faction those of Cambridgeshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, &c.; what havock, outrages, and murders, they committed in London, and other parts of the realm, and how they were at last appeased by the valiant prowess of Sir Will. Walworth, Lord Major of London, &c. comes not within the design of this present history, for which reason I shall only observe how the rebels of our country behaved at that time, which by reason of such hurlie-burlies kept in every place, was called the ryflyng or hurling time. (fn. 12)
The Saturday after Corpus Christi day, there rose no less than 50,000 men in Suffolk, instigated thereto by John Wraw, who had been at London the day before, to take instructions from Wat. Tiler how to proceed; this man they made their captain and leader, who turned the hearts of the bondmen and servants against their lords, and according to the manner of them at London, fell to burning and destroying the houses and manors of the great men and lawyers, and such lawyers as they catched they slew, Sir John Cavendish, then Lord Chief Justice, they beheaded, and fixed his head on the pillory in the market-place of St. Edmund's Bury, also Sir John Cambridge, Prior of Bury, who fled from them, was taken not far from Mildenhall, and beheaded in the open field, where his naked body laid five days, (no man in that space of time daring to bury it for fear of the commons,) his head fixed on a pole was carried before Wraw and his wicked companions to Bury, and put on the pillory there, by the head of Sir John Cavendish, where, in token of old acquaintance, they made them as it were, whisper, and kiss one another, so making sport for their cursed crew; and after they placed that also on the pillory, then entering the monastery, they took Sir John Lakinghithe, keeper of the barony, and drew him into the market-place, and at eight strokes cut off his head and placed it by the others, and forced the monks to bring out all the charters of their liberties, and all bonds which the townsmen had given the Abbot, for their good behaviour, at which the townsmen seemed sorry, though in reality they instigated them to do it, for the commons ordered a Charter to be made concerning the liberties of the townsmen, which they designed should be sealed with the convent seal, as soon as they had fetched home Edmund Bromfield, then Abbot, who was in prison at Notingham, being committed by the King, for his presumptuous intrusion into the abbacy; and in order to do it, they determined that the Abbot should celebrate divine service in his monastery on Midsummer day next; these were the outrageous doings of this county; in which they were not alone, for at the same day, they having correspondence with the commons of Norfolk, the people of Thetford, Lyn, and Yarmouth, assembled together, and came and rested before Norwich, and as they came, caused every man to rise with them, so that they left no villains behind; here they were joined by John the Litester, (that is the Dyer, for so that word signifies,) who was a Norwich man, and captain of all the rabble on this side of the country, and his three companions Seth, Trunch, and Cubit; this much alarmed the citizens, who met in publick assembly, (fn. 13) and chose Robert de Bernham, John de Walsingham, Walter de Gressenhale, and Rob. Reed, to buy, provide, and deliver out arms, as bows, arrows, swords, &c. to defend the city, and orders were given that no gates should be opened, except St. Steven's, Bishopgate, and Berstrete, and that each of them should be guarded with two armed men, one lance and four archers, and at the same time they chose Tho. Spink, Will. de Blickling, Rob. Popinjay, Will. de Appleyerd, Jeffry de Baggewell, Giles Albert, and John de Gunton, as assistants and counsellors to the bailiffs, and added two constables to each ward, to attend the safeguard of the city; and it seems that they had gotten Sir Robert de Salle or Saule, to be governour, for Froissart tells us, that the cause why they rested before Norwich was, because "there was a knyght Capitayne of the Town, called Sir Robert Sale, he was no Gentylman borne, but he had the Grace to be reputed Sage, and balyant in armes, and for his balyauntncsse, Hynge Edwarde made him knight. he was his Body one of the biggest knightes in all Englande.
Lyster and his Company thought to habe this Knight with them, t to make hym their chife Captayne, to the entente to be the more feared and belobed, so they send to hym, that he shulde come and speke with them in the felde, or els they wolde brenne the Towne. The knight consydered, that it was better for hym to go and spekc with them, rather thanne then shulde do that outrage to the Towne. Than be mounted on his horse, and yssned oute of the Towne all alone, and so came to speke with them, and when they same hym, they made him grate there, and honoured hym muche, desyring hym to alight of his Horse, and so be dyde, wherein be dyde great Folly. For whanne be was alyghted, they came rounde about hym, t gegan to speke fayre to him, and sayde, Sir Robert, ye are a Knight, and a man greatlye belobed in this Countrey, and renowned a balyaunt Man. and thoughe ye be thus, yet we knowe you well: ye be no Gentyl manne borne, but Sonnc to a Uillayne such as we be, therefore come you with us and be our Maister, and we shall make you so great a Lorde, that one quarter of England shall be undre your Obeysaunce. When the knight herde them speke thus, it was greatlye contraryous to his Mynde, for he thought neber to make any suche Bargapne, and answered them with a felonous regarde. Flne away ye ungracyous People, false and yuell Traytours that yc be. Wolde you that I shuld forsake my natural Lord for suche a Company of Hnabes, as ye be, to my dishonoure for eber. Thad rather ye were all hanged as yc shall be, and that shall be your ende. And with those Wordes he had thought to habe lepte againe uyon his horse, but he fayled of the Styrrope: and the horse started away. Than they cryed all at hym, and sayde slee hym without Merry. Whan he herde those Wordes he let his Horse go, and drue out a good Swerde, and began to scrimyshe with them, and made a great Place about hym, that it was pleasure to beholde hym. There was non that durst aproche nere hym. There were some that aproched nere hym, but at ebery stroke that he gabe, he cutte of outher Leggr, Heed, or Arme, there was none so hardy but that they feared hym. He dyde there suche Dedes of Armes, that it was marueyle to regarde, but there were more than fourty Thousand of these unhappy People, they shotte and cast at hym, and he was unarmed. To saye trouthe, yf he had been of yron or stele he must nedes habe bene slayne. But yet or he dyed, he slewe xii out of Handc, besyde them that he hurte. Fynally he was stryken to the Erthe, and they cutt of his Armes, and Legges, and than strake his Body all to peres.
"This was the ende of Syr Rob. Salle, whiche was greate domage. for whiche dede afterwarde all the knights and Squyers of England were angry, and sore displeased whan they herde thereof," But the bailiffs and citizens were most of all discomforted, as they had good reason to be, for the cruel death of this their captain, upon which they met again, and chose four citizens to go and consult with Will. de Ufford then Earl of Suffolk, for the peace of the city and country, but Litester, who was styed King of the commons, thinking himself and fellows wiser than the rest, resolved to compel several of the principal nobles and great men of the country to join them; and hearing of the city's message to the Earl, they designed to have taken him, that they might do their business under his authority, but he being warned of their coming, suddenly rose from supper, and taking his journey through woods and deserts came to St. Alban's, and from thence to the King, feigning himself to be servant to Sir Robert de Boys, and carrying a wallet behind him; (fn. 14) the citizens being thus disappointed of a captain, were much terrified, the rebels threatening daily to burn the city, which they guarded against as well as they could, and in order thereto they summoned a general assembly, and there Ralf Skeet and Hen. Skye, two of the bailiffs, Barth. de Appleyard, William de Blickling, Henry Lominour, Thomas Spynk, Ralf Papinjeay, John de Multon, Will. Gerard, Stephen Silvester, Roger de Ridlington, John de Well, and Giles Albert, were chosen, to go to treat with the commons, who proceeded in all manner of rapine and robbery, seizing on all gentlemen that they found at their houses, and compelling them to swear to them, and to ride with them through the country; the knights that were thus compelled, were the Lord Scales, Will. Lord Morley, Sir John Brewse, and Sir Stephen de Hales, who perceiving they must dissemble and say all things were well, or else die a miserable death, were glad to carry favour, by praising or dispraising all things, as they saw the commons affected, and so coming into credit with their capitain Litester, they were preferred to serve him at the table, in taking the assay of his meats and drinks, and doing other services, kneeling humbly before him as he sat at meat, and Sir Stephen de Hales, because he was a comely knight, was appointed his carver; (fn. 15) and thus this mock king had his taster, carver, ambassadours, and other officers, as a real one hath.
During this time, the citizens chosen for this purpose went and treated with these rebels, and were forced to give them large sums of money, to preserve the city from being quite demolished, notwithstanding which, Litester entered the city, with a great throng of citizens that had joined him, demolishing the houses of the noblemen and lawyers, as the Kentish rebels under Tiler had done in London, pretending that they had excepted them, when they received the money of the city to preserve it from burning and ruin: (fn. 16) The magistrates seeing this, began to be very much afraid, and to provide what they could for the safety of their city, and accordingly sent to Sir Thomas Morieux, Knt. (fn. 17) to come to their assistance and consult with them, who did so; and having chosen 20 armed men, and 20 archers, they sent them with him to Stratton, to meet the other country gentlemen there, to consult what was best to be done for the King's service and country's safety. (fn. 18)
The commons in the mean time began to wax weary of the way they were engaged in, so that taking council together, they chose two knights, viz. the Lord Morley, and Sir John Brewes, and three of their ringleaders, Seth, Trunch, and Cubit, whom they put great confidence in, to go to the King, for letters of manumission and freedom, desiring to have their charter for that purpose more large, than those that were granted to other counties, and in order to obtain it the more easily, they sent large sums of money, which they had extorted from the city, to save it from fire and sacking, to the King. In the mean time, Henry le Spencer Bishop of Norwich, being at his manor-house of Burlie, near Okham by Stamford, (as Hollingshed says,) heard of these unruly commotions, and wicked enterprises, in his diocese, and being a man of remarkable bravery, and knowing how much his lenity, liberality, and great charity, had gained the affections of the people in his diocese, like a good and pious pastor, with not above eight lances, and a few archers, he marched for Cambridge, where meeting with a party of these miscreants, who were sent thither, to get more to join them, he forthwith attacked them, killed some, imprisoned others, and those he suffered to go home he sware, not to take arms again in the like cause; thence marching to Newmarket, the utmost confines of his diocese that way, he was not disappointed of his expectation, for the principal men that knew of his march came to him, and from that time his company hourly increased; thence he went to Icklingham, for at that time the great road which now goes through Barton-Mills, went through that town, over the river at a place still called Temple Bridge, by which there was then a mill, and houses for reception for all travellers; the passage from the river to the fields was a narrow lane; in this lane the Bishop meets with Tho. Lord Morley, Sir John Brewes, and two of the rebels with him, the third being gone before to provide a dinner; at first meeting, he demands of the Knights if they had in their company any rebels, who were at first afraid to own it, but at last taking courage, they declared, that two of the chief of them were there, and the third was gone to provide a dinner, on which, the Bishop commanded their heads to be immediately struck off, and went to see for the third himself, whom he served in like manner, and then sent them to be set up on poles at Newmarket, (as Stow and Holingshed say, but the Atlas, as to this affair, says,) that he carried them to Wimondham, where having confessed them, he there cut off their heads, and placed them on poles in that town; but the truth rather seems to be, that he struck off their heads where he first took them, not daring to run any risk of their escaping, and going to Thetford, the rebels there ran to Wimondham, and joined those that sided with them in that place, whither the Bishop followed them so quick, that being terrified by their leaders being slain, and their heads placed up there, they laid down their arms and submitted to the Bishop; and thus these three rebels fell, near the very place where their Suffolk comrades had so barbarously murdered Sir John Cambridge just before; hence the Bishop marched directly for Norwich, which the commons hearing, were so terrified, that they immediately rose from that place, for by this time the nobles and gentry of his diocese flocked to him with armed men, and provisions, so fast, that he had a complete fine army; (fn. 19) the citizens (as they well might) were very glad at his coming, and received him with all joy and honour imaginable, and in an assembly held immediately, it was universally ordered, that the bailiffs should make a present to the Bishop, out of the money that he took from the rebels which he had executed, it being the same that the city had raised for them, to save themselves from fire and sword, as you have before heard, which present should be solely at the bailiffs discretion; (fn. 20) the city being thus out of all further danger, the Bishop makes strict enquiry where the author of this misrule and his adherents were gone to, and being informed that they hovered about Northwalsham and Gimmingham, and that there was a large number of loose people, he commanded his party to prepare and get ready to march against them, putting himself at their head. In this march also, his number still increased, for the knights and noblemen of the country, hearing of the bravery and courage of the Bishop, joined themselves, servants, and dependants, with him; but when he had marched to Felmingham, he was informed that Litester and his crew retired the day before to ThorpMarket, and there caused it to be publickly proclaimed, that all that wished well to the kingdom and commons, should follow him to North-Walsham, where (as he said) he intended to defend the people against the tyranny (as he called it) of the Bishop, who was coming against them with a military power; upon which, all the young fellows in the neighbouring villages followed him, and encamped with him there, which they had no sooner done, but a certain person of inferiour rank went post to the Bishop, and told him the whole, to whom the Bishop said, "Blessed art thou my son, because thou didst not join thyself with those wicked men, and pestilent people;" and then turning to those that followed him, said, "It is better that one evil and wicked man should die, than the whole nation perish, which under his protection, and through his encouragement, rob and plunder innocent persons:" and so hasting to North-Walsham, he found them strongly fortified in their camp, having intrenched themselves in a warlike manner, and set upon the rampier of their trench, window-shutters, doors, tables, pales, boards, &c. and behind them, they had placed their carriages, as if they meant not to flee; notwithstanding this, the martial Bishop provoked at their doings, and particularly incensed for the damage they had done in the city, immediately sounded the trumpets for battle, which much surprised the commons, who expected not such a sudden rough attack, thinking he dared not attempt to storm their camp: but he, like a true valiant man, taking a spear in his hand, set spurs to his horse, and charged them with such courage, that he went swiftly over their ditches, and laid so about him, that he quickly made way for his company to follow, and so having gained their trenches, a sharp battle ensued, both sides earnestly striving to gain the victory; but at last, the commons were overcome and forced to fly, and being stopped by their carriages, a great number fell in the battle, others climbing up and leaping from them, made their escape: but the Bishop (politickly enough) would not stop nor cease the battle till the chief authors and ringleaders of the tumult, with their King Litester, were taken, and so he got a complete victory. After this, Litester being arraigned for his treason, was condemned to be drawn, hanged and quartered; the Bishop heard his confession, and by virtue of his office absolved him, and to show some pity to the man's misfortunes, went with him to the gallows; but that pity did not quench his zeal of justice, for he sought for all the chief promoters of the rebellion, caused them to be executed, and so quieted the country; Litester's quarters were sent and set up one on his own house at Norwich, one in the city, one at Linn, and one at Yarmouth, as a terrour to his adherents. And thus ended this most dangerous rebellion of the levellers, for such they were indeed, desiring not only to level men's purses, but their understandings also, being unwilling that any should be wealthier or wiser than his fellows.
After all things were settled, the mayor of London did sit in judgment upon all offenders found in the liberties of that city, whether they were of Kent, Suffolk, Norfolk, or any other county, and such as were convicted he had their heads smote off, among which was one John Kirkbie or Kirby, a Norfolk man, and one that had been instrumental in holding correspondence between them and the Norfolk rebels. (fn. 21)
Soon after this, the Essex rebels that escaped began to assemble again and make for Colchester, but when they could get none to join them there, they marched to Sudbury, where the Lord Fitz-Walter and Sir John Harleston, Knt. (fn. 22) a brave man and excellent soldier, fell upon them as they were making their proclamations, and slew many, and quite dissipated them, so that by their manhood this rebellion came to nothing.
In 1382, about Michaelmas time, certain vicious people of this county and city, not sufficiently warned by their ill success in the late rebellion, privately endeavoured to raise a new one, with design to murder the Bishop of Norwich, and all the nobles and gentry of the country: and to bring their wicked purpose the better to pass, they determined to have risen at St. Faith's fair, held about 4 miles from Norwich, at the abbey of that name in the parish of Horsham, and so to have compelled all that were there, either to take part with them, or else lose their lives; and this being done, they would have taken St. Bennet's abbey of Holm, in the parish of Ludham, and have kept for a fortress to have withdrawn into, upon any force that had been made against them; but before they could perfect their design, one of the conspirators betrayed them, and they were taken, and lost their heads at Norwich, for their malicious devices. (fn. 23)
This year, on the 20th of June, the Norwich Chronicle says, there was a great earthquake, about noon, and a very pestilential fever in many places of the country, and very extraordinary inundations in the fens. At this time also, the English ladies, after the example of Queen Anne, daughter to the King of Bohemia, and wife to King Richard, began to ride on side-saddles; this Queen first brought this fashion into the land, for before, women used to ride astride like men, as Stow says, fo. 295.
At the great assembly held on Holy-Rood day, it was ordered that no person whatsoever should fish in the river Wensum, namely in that part of it which is in the city liberty, with drag-nets, &c. unless between St. Peter ad Vincula, and Michaelmas, under penalty of losing their fish and nets, and being fined by the bailiffs, and no drag was to have stones of above two pounds weight hung to the lower line. (fn. 24)
In 1383, the King and Queen went a progress, and visited the rich abbies of the realm, as Bury, Thetford, Norwich, and others; (fn. 25) he was received here with great pomp, for in the city accounts there are many sums paid for new painting the city banner, fitting up and painting their admiral's barge, &c. and putting all the city furniture in order for that purpose.
In 1385, the Earls of Notingham and Suffolk, and the Duke of Lancaster, were here, and were nobly treated by the city; it seems the Earls came to solicit for the King towards carrying on the war against the Scots, to which the city gave 50 marks, and lent 150 more, and gave 50 marks to the Duke, towards carrying on his own foreign affairs; they expended 10 marks on the Earl of Notingham, and presented the Earl of Suffolk with two pipes of wine, and a last of oats.
Now also the city ditches were new cleansed, and there was a general survey of the walls and towers, and a return thereupon made, by the persons elected for that purpose, by which it appears that they were all put in sufficient repair, and each of them had 3, 6, or 8, men to guard them; in this return, Heigham-gate is called Porta Inferni, or Hell-gate; it being the lowest next the river on that side of the city, and from this time there were wardens for the walls, gates, towers, and river, yearly chosen.
In 1386, the French intending to invade England, Sir Henry Percy and Faulx Percy were sent to Yarmouth with 300 men of arms, and 600 archers, to guard the coast; (fn. 26) and the King sent his privy seal to the city, commanding them to fortify their town, array their men, and take care of their towers, gates, and walls, and also to lend him 500 marks, upon which they chose the Bishop their governour, and elected William de Blickling, Ralf Skiet, Tho. Spynk, John Gilbert, Walter Bixton, Walter Daniel, John Multon, and Will. Lomynour, to be of council with the Bishop, whenever he wanted them, concerning the government and arraying of the citizens in order for war; and Walter de Bixton and Will. Everard were appointed to go to the King's council at London, to get off what they could of the loan of 500 marks, which they got reduced to 100l. (fn. 27) and being ordered to take particular care to defend their city and the adjacent country, if the French landed. They came home, and on their representation, had watch and ward day and night kept in the city, and the men thereof well armed and arrayed, all their towers and gates filled with instruments of defence; and whereas the principal citizens were often absent at the election of bailiffs, it was ordered that every one that was absent for the future, at the great assembly yearly held at the chapel of St. Mary in the Fields, to choose the bailiffs, shall pay 40d. each.
In 1388, there was an ordinance made that no citizen should buy any worsteds of any country weavers, in the city liberties, without they set their chests in the messuage late John de Welbourn's, now called the Worsted-Celde, (shop or stall,) under penalty of 40s. for the first offence, 4l. for the second, and losing their liberty for the third; and Will. de Eton, and Will. Lomynour were chosen wardens, to take care of this business.
In 1389, the Duke of Lancaster returned to England, having been in Spain and Gascoign for three years last past, and at Easter came to the city, which resolved to honour him in the greatest manner they could, for which purpose they called an assembly, and chose Nic. Blakenee, Henry Lomynour, Ralf Skiet, and Roger Blickling, as adjutants to the bailiffs, to wait upon the Duke, and manage the procession which was to meet him; and to make the appearance as grand as possible, they proclaimed, that every one that was of degree sufficient to serve as bailiff, and did not ride to meet him, should forfeit 40d. and every common freeman 20d.
In 1390, the wool-staple was fixed here, not without great solicitation and expense, for in the treasurer's accounts, there are large sums paid for that purpose, and several fees and presents made by the city to Sir Robert Berneye, Knt. and a pipe of wine, which cost 4 marks, sent to Will. Rees, for their services in the affair.
Now also, a great mortality increased in Norfolk, and in many other counties in England, that it seemed not unlike the season of the great pestilence; it was occasioned by a great want of victuals, that forced many people to eat unwholesome food, and so brought distempers upon themselves; this dearth began under the sickle, and lasted to the following harvest, but was not so much for want of corn, as money to purchase it, occasioned by the law made in relation to wool, by which wool became dog-cheap, for a stone of chosen and picked wool of the best sort was sold for 3 shillings, and some for 22 pence, or 2 shillings, so that in these times the woollen manufacture was the great support of the nation.
In 1392, the King granted a license of mortmain, dated at Notingham the 8th of July, in which for a hundred pounds in hand paid, he licensed the bailiffs and commonalty to receive in mortmain to the use of the city 3 messuages, 18 shops, 42 stalls, and 54s. of yearly rent, in Norwich, held of the King in burgage, and to apply the profits thereof to repair the city walls, towers, and ditches, or for any other works, towards easing the poor and middle sort of citizens, yearly; this by errour is numbered among their Charters, (fn. 28) (fn. 29) it having a broad seal of green wax hanging to it. They were settled by Henry Lomynour, Nic. Blakenee, and Tho. Spink, who had purchased some with the city's money, and given others of their own gifts; but the whole not being answered, it was agreed in assembly, that if the voluntary contributions and legacies of the deceased would not pay the whole of the 100l. paid for the aforesaid license, the rest should be raised by a common tax levied in the city.
In 1395, the Danes laid roving on the Norfolk coasts, and did much injury to the English merchants, upon which, Yarmouth, Norwich, and all the coast towns in this county furnished out a number of ships, and ventured to fight with these Danish pirates, but being overcome, many of them were slain, others taken prisoners, and were forced to pay great ransomes, the merchants also lost 20,000l. in coin, which they had in those ships to buy wares with, in the places they were bound to. (fn. 30)
Paid to Tho. Spynk 40s. for procuring a writ against Sir Leonard de Kerdeston, who endeavoured to try actions arising in the liberties, in other courts; and to John Yelverton, the city counsel in that affair, 40s.; paid also for the King's justices to the assizes for the city, then held at Abraham's-Hall, 18s. 5d. and for their horses oats 14s.; for making the King's herring-pies 9s. 10d.; and for the coroner's expenses in going to Bukenham-Ferry, to sit upon 2 women drowned there 13s. it being within the city liberty; for a grand breakfast made at Norwich for Sir Edmund de Thorp, Sir Rob. de Berneye, Sir Ralf de Shelton, Sir John White, Knts. the sheriff of Norfolk, the mayor of Lyn, and many other nobility and gentry of the city and country, 34s. 7d.
In 1398, there was a tax laid on the city by consent, to raise a sum, to make a voluntary present to the King at his coming hither; and it was then ordered that every man should ride with the bailiffs in their best apparel to meet him, namely, every one of the bailiffs rank to have 3 or 4, or 2 at least, attending him in good liveries, under 5l. penalty, and every substantial citizen was to ride, under 40s. penalty, and every freeman, under 20s. penalty, and every servant and apprentice was to go to meet him, under 6s. 8d. penalty, and every one not able to go himself, should send one in his place; and there were elected as adjutants to the bailiffs, to manage the procession, Robert Dunston, Rich. Baus, and Thomas Fyncham, for the court, and three others for the commons; and this is the first distinction that I find made between the court and commons, which is not to be wondered at, it appearing that they now designed to make a push for a mayor, &c. and the present was designed to oblige the King, in order to obtain their request: and at the assembly held on New-Year's day, Henry Lomynour, Will. Everard, Will. Crakeford, Tho. Hert, Edm. Warner, Walter Nieche, Nich. de Blakenee, Will. Blak-hommore, Will. Sporle, Tho. Fincham, Rob. Dunston, Simon Bakstere, John Mendham, Ric. Wilbye, Ric. Bond, and Samson Bakstere, with two of the bailiffs, were chosen to consider of the manner and way to apply for a major, for the state of the city, having full power to call in all such citizens as they liked, to treat of the matter with them; but it seems the King did not come as was expected, so that I find nothing more of the affair, till next year, when they sent to London to the Duke of Lancaster, about it, who frankly told them, it would not bear now, and that they must wait for a more favourable opportunity; and soon after the Duke died.
This year, brother John Abbot of Wendling let to the city the messuage and key in Cunsford, belonging to his convent, which laid between the land late John de Dunston's (and then the Lady Audele's) on the south, and the churchyard of St. Clement in Cunsford, and the tenement belonging to the city, formerly Hugh Holland's on the north part, the King's-street, west, and the river Wensum, east, together with the advowson of St. Clement's church there, and 6s. 8d. rent; the city was to hold the whole for 600 years, at 13s. 4d. yearly rent.
In 1399, order was issued, that every night one bailiff, and two of the 24 council, with 12 armed men and 24 archers, should watch and guard the city, and that all men should be in readiness for defence, and have their weapons ready at any warning. The walls, turrets, barge, &c. were well fortified, the ditches cleansed, and every thing in a good posture of defence; they having hired many archers and armed men to keep the city, particular care was taken to fit up the Red Tower, called the Dungeon, and to guard the river, and all the city gates were kept shut day and night, except Cunsford, St. Stephen's, St. Martin's, Magdalen, and Bishop-gates, which were always shut early; and now having provided all things, they write letters to Henry Duke of Lancaster, son and heir of John of Gaunt, the late deceased Duke, their especial friend, in which lamenting their loss of him, and setting forth their design of getting a mayor, &c. by his means, and their resentment conceived against King Richard, (for denying them their expected charter, as one may easily imagine,) they tell him how they had proceeded, and accordingly they declared openly for him, against King Richard; and sent Simon de Blickling and Robert Brasier, with their letters, giving them full power to answer the letters that the Duke had sent to the bailiffs, with which he was so well pleased, that the bailiffs themselves were sent for, under pretence to answer to an arrest that the preceding bailiffs had made, but in reality to talk with the Duke; at their going up, they constituted Walter de Bixton, Roger de Blickling, Nic. de Blakenee, and Tho. Gerard, their deputies and attornies, and managed their affairs so well with the Duke, that they not only returned free from the false arrest, but had assurances for their good services, that at a proper time, (if it was ever in his power,) their charter and all their desires should be granted: all which he performed when he became King of England, which was not long after, for Richard II. was immediately deposed by the Duke and his adherents, who was crowned by the name of Henry the Fourth: the late King being imprisoned in Pomfret-Castle, died not long after, a miserable death, being murdered or starved, either by himself, or those about him, (for as to that, reports are various,) and his body being brought to London, was exposed for all to see it, for some time, and was then interred in Westminster abbey.
In this King's reign lived Sir William Norwich, Knt. a great follower and friend of John of Gaunt Duke of Lancaster, with whom he performed many feats of arms in foreign countries, and it was much through this knight's means that that Duke so often visited, and had such a value as he always showed, for this city; Froisart mentions him in his Chronicle, as do several others that I have seen.
Burgeses in Parliament.
4 Parl. at Northampton, John Latymer, Rob. de Bernham; they were chosen by Will. Blickling, Will. Eaton, John Atte moor, and Will. de Blachomor, who were the four citizens elected, by all the commons, to send whom they pleased. (fn. 31)